After the release of the special counsel’s draft statement of offense against Jerome Corsi, the big story has been what it means for the alleged criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. It has huge implications for what we are likely to learn from the Mueller investigation.
But something else caught my eye in the statement’s inclusion of emails between Corsi and Roger Stone. On July 25, 2016, Stone wrote this to Corsi: “Get to [Assange] at Ecuadorian Embassy in London and get the pending [Wikileaks] emails…they deal with the Foundation, allegedly.” (The emphasis in bold is mine.) In a subsequent email on August 2, 2016, Corsi wrote: “Word is friend in embassy plans 2 more dumps. One shortly after I’m back. 2nd in Oct. Impact planned to be very damaging…Would not hurt to start suggesting HRC old, memory bad, has stroke—neither he nor she well. I expect that much of next dump focus, setting stage for Foundation debacle.”
The bolded parts haven’t been mentioned in reporting from the New York Times or the Washington Post. Generally, they aren’t getting much attention. But I noticed them because, back in the summer of 2016, I spent a lot of time writing about the media’s fascination with allegations about how the Clinton’s used their foundation as a quid pro quo for foreign governments to influence the Secretary of State. This was the basis of Trump’s “corrupt Clinton” theme.
What this means is that back in July and August of 2016, both Stone and Corsi were focused on creating a narrative about the Clinton Foundation as a way to discredit Hillary’s presidential campaign. That was affirmed by previous reports about what Roger Stone said when he was interviewed by radio host Randy Credico on August 23, 2016.
“What about the October surprise?” Credico asks. “I mean, you’ve been in touch and indirectly with Julian Assange. Can you give us any kind of insight? Is there an October surprise happening?”
“Well, first of all, I don’t want to intimate in any way that I control or have influence with the Assange, because I do not,” Stone replies, according to CNN. He mentions that the material will probably address the Clinton Foundation. “We have a mutual friend, somebody we both trust, and therefore I am a recipient of pretty good information.”
What is most interesting here is that it was Steve Bannon and his pal Peter Schweitzer who launched the attacks on the Clinton Foundation in the spring of 2015 (just before Trump announced his candidacy that June) with the publication of the book, Clinton Cash. The two managed to get the New York Times on board with an article titled “Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal,” which was published on April 23, just before the book’s May release.
We know how that story was weaponized by Bannon from a report by the Berkman Klien Center at Harvard titled, “Partisanship, Propaganda and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 Presidential Election.” They devoted an entire section to an expose titled, “Dynamics of Network Propaganda: Clinton Foundation Case Study.”
As a result of Bannon’s efforts, stories about the Clinton Foundation began to spike all over various media platforms, including the Washington Post on August 22 and the Associated Press on the 23, just a few weeks after Stone and Corsi were emailing each other. It is also true that the October Wikileaks dump followed up with stories about the Clinton Foundation, which Trump promoted on Twitter.
You might note the date of that tweet: October 27, 2016. It was the day before James Comey announced that the FBI was reviewing more Hillary Clinton emails. The rest, as they say, is history. Stories about the Clinton Foundation faded as the media became obsessed with Clinton’s emails.
We now, however, have good reason to question the role that Bannon played in a story that ties to a case suggesting a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives to influence the 2016 election. But perhaps even more importantly, it is imperative to note the role so many mainstream media outlets played in their attempts to do so. Regardless of whether Bannon worked with Russian hackers and Wikileaks to promote the story about the Clinton Foundation, we know that mainstays like the New York Times, the Associated Press, and the Washington Post were complicit, although probably unknowingly. Rather than attempt to hide this part of the Stone-Corsi story, they should all be doing some deep analysis of how and why that happened.